Pollution levels have fallen 90 per cent in Victoria Harbour - meaning the cross-harbour swimming race could soon be held after a gap of 24 years. An environmental protection officer said there had been a huge improvement in water quality on the eastern side of the Harbour, due to a new sewage disposal scheme. Principal environmental protection officer Malcolm Broom told RTHK radio: 'The level of bacteria that we have been measuring . . . is approaching the sort of level that we could consider might be used for, say, a once-a-year swim without endangering people's health unduly.' A spokesman for the Hong Kong Amateur Swimming Association said a committee had already been formed to discuss the feasibility of resurrecting the race. However, Mr Broom warned that discharges of untreated sewage still affected other areas of the harbour, such as Tsim Sha Tsui. A spokesman for the Environmental Protection Department said last night: 'Initial monitoring results during the commissioning of the Harbour Area Treatment Scheme Stage 1 show a decline in the number of bacteria in the Eastern Harbour by about 90 per cent. 'We believe this could be sustained.' The once-annual cross-harbour swim was last staged on October 15, 1978, having been first held in 1912. Thousands of swimmers took part in the last race from Kowloon Railway Pier to Queen's Pier, a distance which was then 1.4km. Concerns about pollution grew after 18-year-old Michael Phillips drowned in the 1970 swim. His death was reportedly linked to an oil slick competitors swam through. The race was suspended eight years later amid increasing health fears. The possibility of its revival is thanks to the completion last November of the first stage of the Harbour Area Treatment Scheme. Under the $8.2 billion project, sewage from Kowloon and northeastern Hong Kong Island is diverted via underwater tunnels to Stonecutters Island for treatment.